When I wrote the first Blue Ruin book, I purposely went with an "anonymous metropolis" not because I'm a lazy writer but to make a statement: that ultimately, most American cities and their surrounding suburban sprawl are the same, yet with those little touches that still make them uniquely home. However, readers will note I still gave names to the various neighborhoods Derek and Blue frequent. The fact is, the unnamed city in Blue Ruin is based very closely on my hometown of Dallas/Ft. Worth, although I envision it being somewhere near the West Coast, like Seattle or Portland. Here are the real-life DFW (aka the Metroplex) locations that I've based various Blue Ruin locations on:
1. The downtown urban center and skyline is based on downtown Dallas, minus the distinctive Reunion Tower/giant disco ball.
2. The rainbow district of Oakwood is based on Dallas's gay neighborhood Oak Lawn (where I lived, worked, and partied during my late adolescence/early adulthood). However, its streets named after trees are ganked from the Woodland West neighborhood in the DFW suburb of Arlington.
3. The bohemian-chic Soho-esque district of Jericho Pass is based on Dallas's boho district Deep Ellum. The interior of Derek's swank apartment building is based on a combination of the Santa Fe Terminal (former train terminal turned lofts) and the Adam Hats building (former Model T factory turned hat factory turned lofts). The exterior, on the other hand, is newer and taller, and based on a photo of a Tokyo high-rise.
4. The underpass graffiti mural Derek drives by in the first book upon entering Jericho Pass? That's based on the former Good Latimer tunnel that doubled as gateway to Deep Ellum. Both the tunnel and mural were demolished a while back for the new commuter rail. (I preserved the tunnel in my books; a photographer preserved it on film here. There are some broken image links but keep scrolling. Some of it is typical graffiti but again, keep scrolling.)
5. Jodi and Dusty's apartments are based on some crappy ones I really lived in on the Arlington/Grand Prairie line. Dusty's fire is based on three different fires that occurred in three different complexes in that same apartment cluster within a 6-month period. One of those fires directly affected me; another came close. Yes, I eventually got the hint and moved elsewhere.
6. The upper middle class neighborhood Blue grew up in and where his parents still live is Arlington's Interlochen neighborhood. But...the farm-dotted backroad Blue takes to get there is based on the Hurst/Euless/Bedford backroads (although encroaching development is rendering them less and less backroads.) And...the dangerous S-curve with the white cross is behind the previously referenced Woodland West area in Arlington. (Yes, there really is a white cross there. Yes, I always took that curve carefully.)
So there you have it. Blue Ruin is basically set in Dallas/Ft. Worth but it's not in Texas -- it's in my brain. Which explains why Blue doesn't have a Texas accent, while readers are seeing the Metroplex as I knew it rather than the stereotypical "JR Ewing/cowboy" image often associated with the area. Any questions, y'all?